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TOPIC: Dock Electrical Advice

Dock Electrical Advice 20 Jan 2010 14:13 #1

  • wvboater
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Seeking advice and experience from those BOCers that have Power pedestals or electrical expertise. The next phase of the floating dock is soon to commence. Last year a few BOCers followed the progress of the project and next is the installation of a floating boat lift and the associated electrical and water pedestal. I have decided on a Hatteras pedestal which will provide 30 amp and 20 amp connections along with a fresh water hookup. The questions are as follows:
1) I know the 30 amp feed will require 10 guage wire, but does it physically have to be grounded to a grounding rod or will the ground through the breaker box suffice?
2) Ditto the above question with regards to the 20 amp feed which will be 12 guage wire.
3) I am also curious for the breaker installation whether I should use ground fault breakers at the main box. The pedestal has GFCI breakers on it, so is the additional expense necessary in the main breaker or will the pedestal breakers suffice?
4) For those that are interested, the floating lift being installed is the 6600P model from boatfloater.com. Any comments regarding the lift selection will be appreciated as well.
Obviously, if and when all is finished, additional photos will be posted as an addition to the original slide show that was previously posted showing the dock construction from beginning to it's current state. For those suffering from the winter doldrums (as I am) and are in need of a distraction, here is the slideshow reposted:
Dock Construction Slideshow
We are planning on the addition of a couple of picnic tables with umbrellas, already added a couple of benches and a Chiminea. The final details will be adding wood ballusters to the handrails on the ramp and steps. Obviously, we cannot wait for this year since the total project will be complete and we will be able to fully enjoy our new island paradise!:D:D
WVboater

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Dock Electrical Advice 20 Jan 2010 14:26 #2

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I think I know the answers here, but I'll defer to the licenced electricians. You'll want solid answers, not opinion or speculation.

WV, one thing to consider - to properly support your visiting BOC friends, have you thought about adding a 50A/240V receptacle too? And a pump out? And maybe a handout with a map to the local attractions? :D

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Whiskywizard
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Dock Electrical Advice 20 Jan 2010 15:02 #3

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Mike,
I do have a pump-out system, remember, the grief I took last year from a select few for using a shop-vac equipped with a pump to pump to my sewer lift station at the house. Something about contaminating the water, killing all of the fish, destroying the environment, etc. etc., by following the pumpout process with sucking some river water?? As for the 50 amp, that would have to take the feed away from the hot tub (I am sure the Admiral will say....NOT!!), in the event of BOC visitors, I would give them personal directions in lieu of a map!! All opinions or experience are solicited and will be considered before a decision is made. ;):confused:
WVboater

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Dock Electrical Advice 20 Jan 2010 15:29 #4

  • NYBo
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Depending on the length of the run, you may have to bump up the size of the wires.

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Obama is not a brown-skinned anti-war socialist who gives away free healthcare. You're thinking of Jesus.

Dock Electrical Advice 20 Jan 2010 15:39 #5

  • PAUL COWAN
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I just re-wired my hot-tub if you need any help. !!

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Sorry could'nt help myself:kidding

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Would you be willin' to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take... OUR FREEDOM!
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Dock Electrical Advice 20 Jan 2010 15:39 #6

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I'd suggest that you consult your local electrical codes pertaining to the earth ground.
I'm certain that this panel will require the proper earth ground..... but of course the distance from the panel may require special engineering!
(don't know where the panel is in relationship to the dock)

Ditto Bob re; the conductor size...... distance = potential resistace. If "permitting" this job, this will be caught, and you will be required to conform!
Ditto Mike on the 120 and 240 available power options for users.... if it's a concern!

As for the pump-out..... I do remember your shop vac and catch system.
It appeared to work for you! :)
I'd say.... hush hush, and don't let any authorities see it!

BTW, I'm going to admit right here and now of how envious I am of your dock!
What a joy to be able to walk out your door and be at your boat THAT'S ALREADY IN THE WATER!!!!!!!!

Also, what is the triangular piling affair all about? Future Light House? :D
I have a sneaky suspicion that (being braced together at the top) it is a seismic or anti-current structural brace (if I may) for the other pilings due to certain bottom conditions. Yes/No?
.

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Dock Electrical Advice 20 Jan 2010 16:08 #7

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Both wire runs are less than 100 ft, so the wire guage is within spec. There are no local codes that I am aware of other than general guidleines which do not, of course, reference dock power pedestal installations. Is there a national code that would provide some assistance?? Guess I have some more internet searching to do. I never understood the Triangular piling either, the previous owner had the pilings installed, and I just used what was provided. It is on the upstream side so perhaps for additional strength?? The well thought out and engineered pump-out system stays in the garage (after flushing) when not in use!!;);)
WVboater

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Dock Electrical Advice 20 Jan 2010 16:34 #8

  • BrianM
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WV,

Can't help with your questions (lack of knowledge!) but took at peak at your slide show and have to say....WOW....what a set up! Talk about convenient. Well done. Pulling up the real estate ads after I post this LOL.

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Dock Electrical Advice 20 Jan 2010 16:58 #9

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WV, just looked at your slide show. WOW!!!!
The best of all worlds, house on the river, boat in front of the house and what a view. Very nice.
Regards,
Pat

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Dock Electrical Advice 21 Jan 2010 01:21 #10

  • JohnL
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That's a beautiful piece of work! But.... what if you get a wider boat?:kidding

This link might help some, don't know.
http://ths.gardenweb.com/faq/lists/wiring/2005015726007600.html

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Dock Electrical Advice 21 Jan 2010 01:28 #11

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There is indeed a National Electrical Code which goes hand in hand with the National Fire Protection Act. This is THE code most municipalities will differ to. Some variations exist and of course every inspector will apply his own spin and personallity.
Regarding Inspectors
A friend and I built homes side by side.
> His wife POd the head inspector. He had a long bumpy road full of pot holes.
> We treated all of them with the highest respect and asked any questions in a humble voice. This made things go smooooth.

Example
Our house was 4 sq ft short of the minimum for the area. The inspector asked if we were going to brick the house. "Yes" He recalculates we are now 8 sq ft over minimum and it passes.
My friend takes his plans in and he measures only the usable interior square footage , less closets and stairways. It took weeks of wrangling to get the plans approved.

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Dock Electrical Advice 21 Jan 2010 06:50 #12

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I'm no electrician, but I played one on TV.:kidding

No kidding, when I added a 30 amp RV outlet at my old house, they used 8 guage wire, and it was less than 50 feet. Another 30 amp outlet was installed, but with wire to convert to 50 amp. If you're running wire, it's easier to do it now than later if you want to upgrade. Food for thought...

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Dock Electrical Advice 21 Jan 2010 07:23 #13

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If this were me, I'd run #6 3-conductor (+ ground, so 4 actual conductors). For your present needs, you would run one 30A breaker at the house for 1 phase, and one 20A breaker for the other.

In the future, you could change this to support many other options. Your next boat may have dual 30A, which means you could run two 30A and two 20A over the same cable.

If you needed 50A/250v in the future, you could do that on what you have installed, but then you'd need another service for the 20A circuit.

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Dock Electrical Advice 21 Jan 2010 08:22 #14

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ishiboo;408025 wrote: If this were me, I'd run #6 3-conductor (+ ground, so 4 actual conductors). For your present needs, you would run one 30A breaker at the house for 1 phase, and one 20A breaker for the other.

In the future, you could change this to support many other options. Your next boat may have dual 30A, which means you could run two 30A and two 20A over the same cable.

If you needed 50A/250v in the future, you could do that on what you have installed, but then you'd need another service for the 20A circuit.


Yeah, what he said.:)

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Jeff & Tara
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Dock Electrical Advice 21 Jan 2010 12:49 #15

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From the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) Dock Regulations that govern our area:

Electrical Systems

LCRA recommends that electrical installations for existing docks comply
with the National Electric Code (NEC), with particular attention given
to Articles 250, 553 and 555. It is also recommended that National Fire
Protection Association (NFPA) 303 Marinas and Boat Yards be used as
a guideline. Residential dock electrical systems should be designed and
installed by a licensed electrician.
• Wiring methods, equipment, and materials should be listed and
approved for use in wet and damp locations.
• Electrical equipment, cables, and conduit should be firmly attached
to the surface on which they are mounted to ensure their support
and integrity.
• Only copper conductors should be used.
• Enclosures or guards should be installed in locations where electrical
equipment, conduit, or cables may be exposed to physical damage.
• Wiring methods should allow flexibility between adjoining walkways
and any other structural connection.
• A junction box should be installed at each wiring splice connection
point, receptacle, switch or light fixture for the connection of conduit;
non-metallic sheathed cable or other cables.
• All unused openings in boxes and conduit should be closed.
• Accidental contact with energized parts and physical damage to parts
and insulation should be prevented by installing suitable covers on all
boxes and similar enclosures.
• Electrical cables installed in the water should be only Type G, Type
W, or Marina and Boatyard Cable. A strain relief device should be
installed at all termination points.
• Extension cords should never be used in place of permanently
installed electrical wiring or allowed to droop into the water.
• Low-voltage (not battery operated) and solar-powered systems
(photovoltaic) are recommended where installed in accordance with
the National Electric Code.

The service equipment for a dock should be located on shore adjacent to
but not in or on the dock. Overhead electrical service is not recommended
for use on docks or any structure that is located on or over water. On floating
docks an extra hard usage portable power cable such as Type G or W
that is listed for both wet locations and sunlight resistance should be used
where flexibility is required. Wiring on fixed docks should be installed in
conduit, run with the structural components and secured firmly to the
structure.

Remember: No docks on the Highland Lakes may have overhead wiring spans over the open water surface.

Dock owners should check with the appropriate electric service power
company for any additional requirements. For floating docks, additional
“slack” should be provided to allow for changes in lake levels, especially
on lakes Travis and Buchanan. The main electrical disconnect should be
located at a safe elevation on the shore adjacent to the dock. Such a location will allow supply conductors to be disconnected in an emergency,
such as during a storm or flood.

Grounding

Ground continuity is of utmost importance for docks and other structures
that are on or over the surface of the water because of the exposure
to water and dampness. Improper grounding may cause stray currents to
become introduced to a dock’s components.

Lake Buchanan Above 1,022 feet msl
Inks Lake Above 903 feet msl
Lake LBJ Above 837 feet msl
Lake Marble Falls Above 757 feet msl
Lake Travis Above 722 feet msl

All branch circuits should have an insulated equipment grounding conductor
terminated at a grounding terminal in a panel box. The grounding conductor should be no smaller than No. 12 AWG and should have a continuous outer finish that is either solid green or green with one or more yellow stripes.

These items should be connected to an equipment-grounding conductor:
• Metallic boxes, cabinets, and other enclosures.
• Grounding terminals of receptacles.
• Metal frames of equipment (boat lifts, refrigerators, etc.)

For subpanels, an insulated equipment-grounding conductor should
extend from a grounding terminal in the main panel box to a grounding
terminal in the subpanel.

When metal and nonmetallic equipment (such as metal boxes and PVC
conduit) are used together, all metal components should be connected by
insulated equipment grounding conductors to the equipment grounding
terminal bar located inside the panel box.

Electrical system protection (overcurrent protection)
Docks should have overcurrent protection that will open the circuit for
conductors and equipment to prevent excessive or dangerous temperature
in conductors or insulation.

Circuit breakers or fuses should open all ungrounded conductors of the
circuit and should be enclosed in a panel box that is readily accessible.
Combustible material should not be located near circuit breakers or fuses.
Enclosures or a panel box listed and approved for installation in damp or
wet locations should be used for circuit breakers or fuses.

Circuit breakers or fuses for branch circuit copper wiring and equipment
should have a rating or setting of not more than 20 AMPs for 12 AWG; 30
AMPs for 10 AWG; 40 AMPs for 8 AWG; and 50 AMPs for 6 AWG. Each
circuit breaker should be labeled at the panel box to identify the specific
circuit it controls.

Electrical receptacles

Receptacles that provide shore power (conversion of AC current to DC
current to power boats while at mooring) for boats should be on individual
branch circuits, rated no less than 20 AMPs and of the twist-lock type.
All other receptacles should be 15 or 20 AMPs, 125 volts, and protected
by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI). Receptacle covers and boxes
should be the appropriate type suitable for either wet or damp locations.
If installed in open, outdoor areas, covers and boxes should be approved
for wet locations.

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'99 2355 Ciera (SOLD)
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Dock Electrical Advice 21 Jan 2010 13:39 #16

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The main thing that I had not considered but has become apparent to me is that a shore mounted disconnect should be added to the circuit. I do plan on adding this at the top of the steps. I have considered larger wire, but have yet to convince myself of the need. The boat does have two 30-amp circuits, but in two years there has not been an occasion yet where both have been utlized at the same time. Actually, the last year the battery charging circuit and the refridgerator circuit were plugged into a 20 amp GFCI on the front porch from the shore power receptacel with a 30-amp to 20-amp adapter and power was delivered through an extension cord (not ideal but it worked for last summer). I likewise do not foresee a larger boat coming into the picture, but of course, one never knows at what point the pangs of two-foot-itis will start. I appreciate the positive comments on the dock, and for those who are interested, the labor of love took about 150 hours total to complete and as can be seen from the slideshow, the male-ego was extremely satisfied, since no other hands than mine were involved in the construction. I do have to unhinge the middle of the finger piers for the lift install and the manufacturer has also recommended a submersed pipe system tying the two fingers together for stability that I will be adding. In the event that a larger boat ever came into the picture, all that would be required is extending the deck-like platform a couple of feet and relocating the outside finger pier. Believe me that would be simple compared to getting the whole thing in the water initially. I have been in discussions with a couple of certified electricians as to what they think should be included, but am always open to suggestions.
WVboater

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Dock Electrical Advice 21 Jan 2010 16:02 #17

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wvboater;408047 wrote: that a shore mounted disconnect should be added to the circuit.


Assuming the feed is from an existing panel in the house (or garage) why isn't the branch circuit breaker there an adequate disconnect? Why add a separate disconnect switch?

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Whiskywizard
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Dock Electrical Advice 21 Jan 2010 16:30 #18

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Mike,
I do agree with you, but I think the primary purpose (code-wise) is that there should be line of sight from the disconnect switch to the dock. I think it is overkill in a sense (I do have another electrician coming to the house to give his opinion) since there will be disconnects in the garage as well as disconnects on the pedestal itself. One benefit that I do have so far, is the thought process, including the electricians have not cost anything yet. Obviously the pedestal breakers are line of sight to the dock since they are on it, but I think (don't hold me to it) that code calls for shore mounted disconnects. Hey, who knows, when this is all said and done, we all might learn something (at least I will anyway).:rolleyes::rolleyes:
WVboater

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Dock Electrical Advice 21 Jan 2010 17:26 #19

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whiskywizard;408093 wrote: Assuming the feed is from an existing panel in the house (or garage) why isn't the branch circuit breaker there an adequate disconnect? Why add a separate disconnect switch?

Mike, it has to do with distance or proximity!
The user, or person performing service, must be able to reach an adequate means of disconnect and within a pre described proximity.
Hot tubs, outdoor heat pump units, etc. all must have a close proximity disconnect..... and apparently this would include a dockside power pedestal.
This is a good thing!

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Dock Electrical Advice 21 Jan 2010 18:00 #20

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Great job...good for you! Enjoy...

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Dock Electrical Advice 21 Jan 2010 19:25 #21

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We recently had a homeowner electrocute himself while working on his dock, which has caused the spotlight to be on such matters (as you can probably imagine).

I've got what is essentially 00 gauge wire running from a 200amp panel at the house, a couple hundred feet to a disconnect at the shore, and 100 feet of 12ga outdoor/water resistant jacket cable (yellow) running from there to my dock. This feeds into a junction box on the dock, which branches to a 3 ton boat lift, lighting, outlets, etc. Admittedly, I have no grounding mechanism other than an earth ground at the disconnect on shore (a 6' copper rod driven into the ground) and the rest of the circuits rely on case ground.

The disconnect at shore also has a 30amp CB protected branch circuit that runs, underground via direct burial cable, to a pavilion with lights, fan, sound system, flat screen, etc.

Since our docks can literally rise and fall 60 feet or more (I'm not kidding) there can be a lot of stress on both the wire runs and the connections, so it's wise to check them often.

The disconnect at shore is prominently marked for the reasons others have already mentioned.

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'99 2355 Ciera (SOLD)
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Austin, Texas

Dock Electrical Advice 22 Jan 2010 07:37 #22

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Follow the advice of your electrical contractor / electricians, they will research materials, code requirements and best practices for dock installations.
All work requires a permit and must done by journeyman electrician.
Yes, to do it correctly is expensive.

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Dock Electrical Advice 22 Jan 2010 14:28 #23

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I am fully aware of code, electricians, etc. etc. etc. The purpose of the OP was to solicit advice on different installation options of which I have received good ones to date. I have consulted licensed electricians and will have another one look at the installation as well. Just because someone is a licensed electrician does not mean they are the final authority. My engineering background (PE) tells me that two different electricians can approach the same problem and arrive at completley different conclusions that are permittable and follow code. I have no intentions of installing a system that is for my personal use without knowing exactly what I am planning on doing ahead of time. It is my checkbook, not the electricians. I don't mean to be brash, but as I stated before, I will entertain all opinions and advice before making my final decision.
WVboater

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Dock Electrical Advice 22 Jan 2010 15:42 #24

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I'd be interested in what your current plan is? Are you running THHN in PVC conduit or spec cable??

My inclination would be #6 Cu THHN, it gives you options as far as power upgrades and at $150 for wire it won't break the bank.

I'm also interested in what the grounding requirement is, as you may be aware subpnals do not usually get grounded, the determination may be whether your pillar has integral breakers?

what I would do is get a flex into the bottom of the pillar and set the thing up so it can break away and hinge down flat on the dock if it gets crunched rather than self-destructing the fiberglass column base. Yeah, don't ask me how I know ths:o else, set the pillar so that there is no way you can take it out with your bow overhang.

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Dock Electrical Advice 22 Jan 2010 15:50 #25

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wvboater, does your state allow the property owner to perform his own work? And will you be doing this?
Just curious!

.

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